December 22, 2011

Happy Winter's Solstice!

While looking for holiday books on Amazon, I came across A Solstice Tree for Jenny.  Jenny's parents are atheists (though that term is never actually used) and they don't celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa because of their religious affiliations.  Usually they travel during December, but this year they are home and Jenny feels like she's missing something.  Fortunately, a teacher at school explains the winter solstice to her and Jenny comes up with a more secular way to celebrate all of the good parts of the holidays, like helping others and being with family and friends.  

This is one of those books that I wanted to read with the kids, but they weren't very interested.  Robotson has the most experience with my reading out loud so he actually picked up most of the story even while playing with his iPod.  I throughly enjoyed it though.  In fact, I very much hope that as the girls outgrow Santa, we can begin a tradition of celebrating the winter solstice with a focus on more than ourselves and gifts under a tree.  For a while now I've nudged us in the direction of doing more together or for others as opposed to getting or giving things.  As everyone knows though,  this isn't an easy transition.  I loved the ideas from the book, like buying a live tree to decorate instead of killing one by cutting it down.  I also loved the little phrases they hung on tree about the things that they believe.  Most of all, I liked how Jenny put a jar under the tree to collect money for a cause instead of gifts.  I am all for giving gifts, but it's a truly beautiful idea to think beyond yourself.  When she has her friends over to see her tree, they are going to notice what is important to Jenny and her family.  It could lead to great discussions and open up new ways of thinking.  

Maybe that's what is missing from our lives right now.  This ......waiting...... for Christmas because all the focus is on us and presents for the kids.  I am increasingly less satisfied with the "things" in my life.  Next year I want to incorporate a little bit of what Jenny did with her family into our holiday.  Perhaps we'll get a living tree.  Perhaps we'll make our own ornaments, perhaps we do a collection for a something.  But that's the direction I want to move towards - a celebration of life, gratitude, and connectedness with everything around us.  


  1. I haven't read A Solstice Tree for Jenny, but I did try to share a picture book about the solstice (The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer) with my kiddo. It turned out to be a bit long for her. I guess I'll try again next year... :)

  2. I so need to read this book. Thanks for the suggestion!

    ~ Christin

  3. I can bring it to park day if you want, Christin.

    Mindy- sometimes I don't read the whole thing. I read it beforehand so that I know what it's about and I summarize, or we just talk about the pictures just to get them interested in the book. Sometimes just catching their interest is enough to get them to listen to the whole thing. But sometimes it's not :)